Powerful sunset skies
Over the last few weeks, I've been working on these big sky monotypes. I started out with a plan to do brooding stormy skies but I became fascinated with creating a red/orange blended layer of ink that made a powerful contrast to the blues and greys. So, once again, I'm exploring the sunset theme but with a different colour palette.
There's a kind of colour magic that happens when I get just the right combination of colours. The blues against the warm reds and oranges really seem to dance before your eyes. Before I began, I looked back to the well known John Martin paintings that I saw for myself at an exhibition in the Laing Art gallery several years ago. I wanted to emulate his powerful brooding skies in his "catastrophe" series. I'm hoping for a more uplifting feeling though rather than the doom and destruction he portrays with such evident enjoyment! I feel a special kinship with John Martin as he was born in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland in 1798.
These photos show some work in progress details. There's more to add in the way of a dark land mass and maybe a lonely tree or two. It's so liberating to work on large, expressive pieces like this but hard too. I've spent a long time developing new ways to layer colours together and make marks with rags, brushes and splattering to give the idea of glowing clouds without drawing them. I'm walking along a line between abstract expressionism and a recognisable subject. It's very exciting as I never know how each one will turn out especially when I overprint the blues across the reds.
This video shows some of the highlights of printing the the sky shown above. I've been loving printing dark blues and grays over hot reds and oranges. It gives an amazing colour glow. I hope it gives you an insight into how my originals come about. They're not paintings but they are unique works of art.
The challenge with the mark-making for the skies is not to settle into a rhythm of doing roughly the same all over but to have variety and interest with some areas worked in detail and others left broad. In some places the reds dominate making an area that draws the eye and in other areas the blues dominate to make darker, quieter areas. I guess you could liken it to a piece of music with quiet passages then powerful crescendos. It doesn't help that the ink looks a lot darker than it will be on the finished result. It's easy to wipe away too much ink.
I've looked at a lot of different images of stormy sunset skies with hints of red and orange but my pictures don't re-create any one photograph. They are new creations using the visual idea as a theme and running with it. It's been a lot of fun playing with colour like this!
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